For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labour.
May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the Lord,
that he may blot out their name from the earth.
For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the broken-hearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse –
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing –
may it be far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied for ever round him.
May this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me.
But you, Sovereign Lord,
help me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.
I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.
Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to your unfailing love.
Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, Lord, have done it.
While they curse, may you bless;
may those who attack me be put to shame,
but may your servant rejoice.
May my accusers be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.
With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;(Ps. 109:1-31 NIV)
in the great throng of worshippers I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.
The Psalmist praises the Lord but pleads for the Lord not to remain silent. The threat to the Psalmist is that some wicked and deceitful people are telling lies about the Psalmist. The treachery arises because these people were once friends, but without being given any reason they have turned against the Psalmist. They are attacking him directly and behind his back by trying to damage his reputation. Their lies and deceptiveness have come from a heart of hatred. They have returned evil for good. The Psalmist offered friendship, but they have replied with hatred. The Psalmist describes himself as a man of prayer. That gives us the clue to how he is going to respond – he is going to pray.
The Psalmist calls on evil to be punished by evil. He wants their own evil ways to be turned back upon them. It is a bit like the saying, ‘He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ The evil could be a judge or a person who acts in some capacity of authority. The desire is that the system of justice will not be so corrupt as to twist any form of justice. The idea is that through the instrumentality of human institutions and by means of wicked men, other wicked men are condemned, and in this process God’s righteousness is vindicated. When the accused is tried, the Psalmist is looking for a guilty verdict. If you remember the court case related to Ashers’ Bakery, this is the kind of prayer that many church members prayed in that time. The case was tried in the court of the land, and the Christian owners of the Bakery were looking for an outcome that would vindicate their right to choose what to provide. If the wicked pray, the Psalmist prays that those prayers may condemn him. The Psalmist asks that the day of the wicked will be cut short, and it is implied that the righteousness of the Lord will prevail, and that another person may take their place. The Psalmist does not want the wicked to prosper from their wickedness, nor their family to prosper. The wife is to be a widow and the children to be fatherless. May the children be reduced to how the wicked father wanted the Psalmist to be reduced. The lesson is that sin does not prosper, it is a ruination of life and eventually the ruination of a home.
The Psalmist does not want the wicked to benefit from the ill-gotten gain. As the wicked man has shown no mercy, may he receive no mercy, and may no-one take pity upon his progeny. As the wicked have exploited others may they be exploited and another take their riches. The Psalmist does not desire a heritage for his enemy.
The psalmist talks about the sins of his enemy. It is important to see that this is exactly what the Lord has said about the sins of the wicked. The Psalmist is simply praying that God’s will be done. Everyone has a sense that ultimately the wicked will have to give account, that there will be a day of reckoning.
The Psalmist then turns the attention of his prayer back to himself. He wants the Lord to bless him because of the Lord’s name’s sake. The Psalmist is not claiming any worth but is asking that the Lord deal with him according to His love. The Psalmist has no strength, no worth, no resilience that he can muster as an argument for any self-merit. He needs the Lord to save in accordance with the Lord’s covenant love (hesed). The enemy may curse, but this is irrelevant compared to the Lord’s blessing. Ultimately the good will triumph over evil.
Because the Psalmist has confidence in the Lord, he knows that he will yet again praise the Lord in the company of God’s people.
Lord God, we bring before You all who oppose the Kingdom of God. We pray that You will thwart their intention and cause Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to be people of prayer and bring before You every issue that we face. When we find it difficult to discern whether our emotions are correct, we pray that You will help us to bring the issues before You in prayer and give us wisdom to know when we need to repent because of how we feel, or to rejoice that we have prayed according to Your will, because we ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.